By HARRIS YUDIN, DOMINIC ASTA, QUINN IRELAND and MITCH GLESSNER
Over the next month leading up to the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, Baseball Info Solutions will be publishing a series of position-by-position scouting reports from our Video Scouts for the top-50 collegiate draft prospects. Each player is graded by the 20-80 scouting scale, given a comprehensive evaluation, and assigned a floor and a ceiling comparison, which indicate–if a player makes the Major Leagues–the range of the type of player into which he can develop.
This post covers the first half of a group of 10 middle infielders, with the second half to follow later this week. As was the case with the corner infielders, all 10 of these players should hear their names called early — perhaps even in the first three rounds.
Four of these five infielders were predominantly shortstops in college, but only two are likely to stick at the position. Bryson Stott and Logan Davidson have a clear future at short, while Will Wilson projects as a second baseman and Braden Shewmake could really play anywhere but catcher. Chase Strumpf, the only second baseman of the bunch, figures to stay at the keystone, but could also find himself playing the outfield. Additionally, each of these players has surprising pop for the middle infield position.
Bryson Stott, SS
UNLV (JR, 2019)
L/R 6-03, 200 lbs.
Date of Birth: 10/06/1997
Hit- 55 (60) Power- 50 (55) Run- 55 (55) Arm- 55 (55) Field- 50 (55)
Written by Dominic Asta
Bryson Stott is the headliner of the shortstop position for the 2019 college draft class. He is in the midst of a fantastic junior season at UNLV. He has answered the questions about his lack of power this year by hitting 10 home runs so far. Stott has a strong, large frame that fits with the growing size of current MLB shortstops. He has average to above-average tools across the board, and some projection left in his power and fielding tools. He has a track record of success with wood bats in the Northwoods League and Cape Cod League. He should be the first college shortstop drafted, and has the chance to be the highest UNLV player drafted since Matt Williams went third overall in 1986.
Stott uses a wide, open stance with his hands at his head. He has an opposite-field approach and great power to left field. He keeps his hands back at the plate, which allows him to utilize the opposite field, and has great feel for barreling pitches. He excels at making contact, and has kept his strikeout rate to 6 percent last season and 14 percent this year. He has begun to pull more balls, increasing his home run totals in 2019. He led all of college baseball with 30 doubles last season and is beginning to turn more doubles into home runs. He is a patient hitter who has produced a 20 percent walk rate and a .494 on-base percentage in 2019. Stott hit a total of five home runs his first two years at UNLV, but has doubled that amount this year and has been driving the ball more frequently. He has a level bat plane which produces mostly line drives right now, but has the frame, strength and bat speed to have above-average power at the next level.
He is not the most agile athlete at shortstop and struggles with first-step quickness. He has an above-average arm and makes accurate throws to first base. Stott is strong around the bag and looks smooth turning double plays. He doesn’t have great range, but he looks stronger to his right side on the backhand. He has above-average speed out of the box, routinely posting sub-4.2 second times from home to first. Stott has been a successful base-stealer in college, swiping 31 bags in 38 attempts. He has enough speed and baserunning ability to steal double-digit bases at the next level.
Stott is an offensively-polished shortstop with average to above-average tools across the board. Some question his defensive future, but he should be able to stick at his current position with hard work and development. He shows the ability to make highlight-reel plays, and his strong arm will help him stay there. His power is developing to go along with an above-average bat.
Projection: All-Star-caliber shortstop with above-average tools across the board.
Ceiling: Corey Seager
Floor: Stephen Drew
Draft expectation: Top-10 pick
Logan Davidson, SS
Clemson University (JR, 2019)
S/R 6-03, 190 lbs.
Date of Birth: 12/26/1997
Hit- 40 (50) Power- 50 (55) Run- 55 (55) Field- 50 (55) Arm- 60 (60)
Written by Dominic Asta
Logan Davidson was a highly sought-after prep player who comes from strong baseball bloodlines — his father, Mark Davidson, played six seasons in Major League Baseball. He burst onto the college scene with a fantastic freshman year at Clemson, hitting 12 home runs and producing an .861 OPS. He has an exciting combination of speed and power that has resulted in 40 home runs and 36 stolen bags so far in his college career, but has struggled with strikeouts and does not have a good track record with wood bats in two summers in the Cape Cod League. Davidson should still be a first-round pick though, based on his college production and exciting tools across the board.
Davidson has a tall, lanky frame with long limbs and room to add weight. The switch hitter has similar swings from both sides of the plate, with bent knees and quick hands, but has a little more power and a smoother swing from the right side. He will drop his hands too much in his pre-swing load, which causes his barrel to not stay in the strike zone. His swing can get a bit long and loopy, mostly from the left side, which makes him late on pitches and contributes to his concerning high strikeout numbers — he has produced a strikeout rate over 20 percent in each of the last two seasons.
A great athlete with above-average speed, Davidson possesses the ability to stick at shortstop. He has greatly improved his defense since his freshman year, and will have to continue to develop defensively because of his big frame. His strong arm allows him to make plays deep in the hole and on the run, and would profile well at third base. He is also a good enough athlete to handle a corner outfield spot. That athleticism and speed should allow him to steal 20-plus bags at the next level, and his long strides allow him to be faster once he is going max effort.
Teams should be wary of Davidson and his hit tool. His track record with wood bats is concerning, as are his strikeout numbers. He will need to get stronger physically to handle the transition to wood bats and better pitching. He should be able to stick at shortstop because of his athleticism and arm, but his power would play well at the hot corner. Davidson’s exciting combination of power, speed and switch-hitting ability should make him a first-round pick.
Projection: Switch-hitting shortstop with 20-20 potential.
Ceiling: Ian Desmond
Floor: Brad Miller
Draft expectation: Round 1
Braden Shewmake, SS
Texas A&M University (JR, 2019)
L/R 6-04, 190 lbs.
Date of Birth: 11/19/1997
Hit- 55 (60) Power- 45 (50) Run- 55 (50) Arm- 50 (55) Field- 50 (55)
Written by Harris Yudin
Braden Shewmake has been one of the more consistent college hitters over the last three years, managing an .869 OPS with 21 home runs and 29 stolen bases over that span. Following a slow start to his junior campaign, the Aggies’ shortstop has picked up the pace, hitting .333 over his last 192 plate appearances.
A wiry frame and unconventional swing mechanics allow Shewmake to stand out from the crowd. He stands open at the plate and deep in the batter’s box, taking a long stride towards the mound. He uses his long arms to get good extension and cover the whole strike zone, showing excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to spray the ball to all fields. He displays solid plate discipline — 53 walks and 65 strikeouts throughout his collegiate career — but does have a tendency to chase some left-on-left breaking balls. At times, he can pull his body out and drop his hands, producing a flat swing.
Shewmake is certainly hit over power, and is likely to maintain that profile as he moves towards pro ball. There is a reasonable expectation that he could bulk up and develop some more power, but the fact that he’s only packed on about 10 pounds since arriving in College Station is mildly concerning — as is his inability to replicate his freshman season home run totals (11 in 2017, 10 combined in 2018 and ‘19).
While he doesn’t necessarily have blazing speed, Shewmake is a threat on the basepaths, demanding immediate attention from opposing pitchers. His long strides, good instincts and aggressiveness allow him to take extra bases and swipe a decent amount of bags.
Defensively, Shewmake shows good range both up the middle and in the hole. He has an above-average arm, but is inconsistent with his throws, occasionally rushing and throwing off-balanced to first. He is capable at shortstop, but may outgrow the position, and is more likely to end up at either second or third base. There’s even an outside shot that he lands in the outfield, where his athletic ability could shine.
Shewmake’s body type, swing and uncertain defensive future could make any team hesitant to pull the trigger on draft day, but he offers a steady track record of production and above-average athleticism wherever he plays in the field. He could develop into a player with double-digit homers and steals, and profiles similarly to Luis Gonzalez, who, despite being known for his late-career power surge and postseason heroics, was a contact hitter with moderate power and speed for the first half of his career.
Projection: Well-rounded, everyday major leaguer who could provide defensively versatility.
Ceiling: Luis Gonzalez
Floor: Ryan Flaherty
Draft Expectation: Rounds 1-2
Will Wilson, SS/2B
North Carolina State (JR, 2019)
R/R 6-00, 184 lbs.
Date of Birth: 07/21/1998
Hit- 40 (50) Power- 45 (55) Run- 40 (40) Arm- 45 (50) Field- 50 (50)
Written by Mitch Glessner
After receiving numerous accolades as a freshman and sophomore, Will Wilson has garnered plenty of attention at the top of NC State’s lineup in his junior campaign. The 2018 second team All-American climbed up draft boards after hitting .307 with 15 home runs as a sophomore. His combination of raw power and solid glove work in the middle of the field makes for an intriguing skill set as the 2019 draft approaches.
Wilson is a bat-first middle infielder. He stands straight up in the box with lower hand position around chest height. He finds his rhythm and timing with a slight hand wiggle and a high leg kick, and will shorten up his leg kick and overall movement when hitting with two strikes. He is a natural low-ball hitter, and is at his best when hunting pitches middle-away in the zone.
Raw power is Wilson’s biggest strength at the plate. His hands are quick, but he tends to let his shoulders dominate his rotational swing. His bat path can get long, leaving him susceptible to velocity on the inner third. He will fight for extension on the inner third which can lead to early hand roll. Wilson occasionally lacks aggression to hunt pitches that play to his strengths middle-away. He is at his best when he attacks middle-to-outer-third pitches, and when he is aggressive with those areas of the plate, he is one of the most dangerous hitters in the country.
Wilson provides a smooth glove in the middle of the field. He has soft enough hands to adjust for bad hops, and does a really good job of getting around the ball consistently. He prefers to throw on the run rather than with his feet planted to compensate for what he lacks in arm strength. Due to the lack of carry on his throws, he will likely move to second base at the next level.
Wilson’s glove is talented enough to allow him to play everyday at second base at the professional level, and there’s no denying the raw power in his bat. Finding the ability to translate the raw power into game power, while making solid consistent contact, will be vital in his development as a professional.
Projection: Low-ceiling middle infielder with limited athleticism but above-average power.
Ceiling: Rich Aurilia
Floor: Sean Rodriguez
Draft Expectation: Rounds 1-2
Chase Strumpf, 2B
UCLA (JR, 2019)
R/R 6-01, 191 lbs.
Date of Birth: 03/08/1998
Hit- 50 (55) Power- 50 (55) Run- 45 (45) Arm- 45 (50) Field- 50 (55)
Written by Quinn Ireland
Chase Strumpf burst onto the national scene as a sophomore at UCLA by being in the top 100 nationally in basically every important offensive statistical category. An All-American in 2018, Strumpf posted a slash line of .363/.475/.633 with 12 home runs and 23 doubles. The numbers from his current season are down, which was expected given that his BABIP last year was over .400, but he still owns an impressive line of .311/.452/.509.
Strumpf’s strongest tool is his advanced approach at the plate. With almost a walk per game, he has a very keen eye that should lead to a high on-base percentage, regardless if he ends up hitting for a high average. That being said, he is an excellent hitter who should at least be average at the next level with decent power, to boot. His power has increased greatly since his days as a freshman, and he should develop into at least a plus power hitter– he has the potential to be a consistent 20-homer bat in the pros.
He will never be a speed demon, but Strumpf has been known to swipe a base or two and should be able to reach most of the balls hit his way in the field. An excellent fielder at second base, his profile lends well to either the keystone or left field, where he would probably be a slightly below-average fielder but his arm would play better.
Strumpf, who hits third for the top-ranked UCLA Bruins, is one of the top college bats — and probably the top second baseman — in the 2019 class. A bit of his sparkle has worn off because of the slight regression this year, but that should not shy teams away from a guy who could be a spectacular everyday player with on-base skills, power and a solid glove.
Projection: Bat-first second baseman with utility player potential.
Ceiling: Aaron Hill
Floor: Logan Forsythe
Draft Expectation: Rounds 2-3
Other middle infielders to keep an eye on:
Ethan Paul, Vanderbilt University
Tanner Morris, University of Virginia
Cam Shepherd, University of Georgia
Tyler Fitzgerald, University of Louisville